The Patriots of Mars

Download eBook This review may contain some spoilers. Jeff Faria’s sweeping space opera is bursting at the seams with living and breathing characters, crackling dialogue, exciting technology, and a plausible, daring futuristic setting. The strength of the work lies in its relentless world building, with every nook and cranny carefully considered. From the corporate higher tiers, to the dark underbelly. From the polished bot slaves to the wayward teenagers forging their destinies in the dirt. It’s clear that the author has patiently developed the finer points of this universe, right down to the tiniest grain of martian sand. The story begins with Josh, a gifted teenager struggling to find his place in this universe. However, the tale quickly branches off to incorporate world founders, antagonists and movers and shakers. As a result of the sheer scope, the story feels a little unfocused in the beginning stages, but it finds ground again when we’re thrust back into Josh’s world. We learn early on of Josh’s difficult upbringing and understand his struggle to find meaning and purpose in a chaotic world. Yet amid such a great ocean of characters, Josh can often become lost in the waves, so it’s always good to find him again. This reader would have enjoyed more time spent with this important character, and a chance to get closer inside his head. Faria is a talented writer; the book is packed full of memorable quotes, and his dialogue sparkles with believability and intensity. At times, the pace slows as Faria handles the unenviable task of juggling world building and plot building. I can’t help feeling that the book could...

Bring Your Own Baker

Download eBook This review may contain some spoilers. This is the second book in the Death by Cupcake series (Disclaimer: This is the only book in the series that I’ve read). Bring Your Own Baker follows the exploits of Anna, a baker who becomes embroiled in a murder investigation. I liked the concept, but dare I say it, the ingredients amounted to a flat product. It doesn’t help much that I found little in Anna to like. Sure, she’s pink-haired, with a pixie-like petite body, but beyond the surface level, she comes across as brattish and irrationally stubborn. When one of her old acquaintances is brutally murdered, she takes it upon herself to track down the mystery assailant. Despite resistance from her law enforcement friend, Anna stalks blindly into danger again and again. To complicate matters, there’s a romance thrown in here between Anna and a dangerous bad boy type character. Sadly, for me, there was no spark to find. Other than raw lust, there’s not much going on between these two. The author didn’t make me believe it. I felt that the chapter headings were clever, and some of the dialogue was snappy. However, dialogue exchanges were often bogged down by the character explaining her thought processes to the reader. This book makes for light digesting, but I would have preferred that the author scale back on all of the icing and sugar, and give us something with some real depth in its base. I think the author definitely has it in her. The writing style was pleasant to read with few typographical errors. Bring Your Own Baker...

Till The Rivers All Run Dry

Download eBook This review may contain some spoilers. A captivating historical fiction set in 1941, before America’s involvement in World War II. Ricky Parker, thirteen-years-old, travels with his parents to Venezuela; his father has been sent to help in the search for precious oil to fuel the war in Europe. But in the South American heat, just north of the equator, Ricky and his family are thrown into a melting pot of cultures, with the threat of disgruntled natives on one side, and, perhaps more unnerving for some of the Americans, German workers and families living in close proximity on the other side of the camp. This serves to create a tentative feeling around the site and a sense of foreboding that keeps the drama ticking along. But Ricky wants for nothing more than to sink into his comic books, or to swing his bat on the baseball field. The war, oil, his father’s engineering brain – none of these things concern him. To complicate matters, he falls for a young German girl, Hannah, and begins to understand a broader picture, of both love and life. They grow closer, knowing that one day, due to the growing animosity between their two governments, they will be forced to part. But when someone turns up dead in the camp, fingers start pointing, people become anxious and things begin to escalate. With time ticking down until America will be hurtled into the war, it’s only a matter of time until matters implode inside the camp. This is a well-written work that bottles the fear and tension of that era while serving up a...

Marvelry’s Curiosity Shop

Download eBook This review may contain some spoilers. There are some wonderful short story ideas at work here that are sure to satisfy fans of the occult. Dr. Marvelry’s Curiosity Shop is the epicenter of this work, where all of the short story threads begin. A clever idea, linking dark items from the store to each of the stories. However, the book falls short technically and suffers from sinister examples of telling and not showing. Sharp, fascinating ideas fuel these short stories. There’s a sewing machine that designs you a garment aligned to your destiny, or fertility dolls that can’t be sated. The supplier of these items, the mysterious Dr. Marvelry, is a quirky character whose motives are not entirely apparent, lending him a veil of mysteriousness. Unfortunately, the supporting characters who carry their respective short stories prove difficult to care for. The authors have chosen an omniscient point of view writing style; I’d have preferred living each short story through the eyes of one character. It would allow me to get closer to that character, and so I’d really care about the stakes that they’re up against. Unfortunately, I remained a spectator only in the hopes of finding out what misfortune would befoul them. In the technical department, the authors’ reliance on descriptive sentences to tell character emotions grew tired fast. The best writing lets the character actions speak volumes. It’s amazing how such missteps can quickly drain the tension or suspense. Another round of editing could catch these offenders, and help tighten up this ship because the foundations and pillars are there. I wager a sharp edit would help open...

Can’t Let Go

Download eBook This review may contain some spoilers. This story of love and endurance comes from a heartfelt place but suffers from unpolished writing and tepid dialogue. Ralph and Sonya are in love, but Sonya’s past casts a dark cloud over everything they’ve built together, threatening to tear their relationship apart. When Sonya disappears without any explanation, a puzzled Ralph is left caring for their child. Through the use of flashbacks, we learn about Sonya’s troubled relationship with her father, stemming from the death of her mother. And while this relationship serves to flesh out the reasons behind Sonya’s departure, and the challenges that Ralph will have to help her through, I never felt particularly close to these characters. That’s partly due to the disjointed writing style, often covering some of the mundane details while ignoring the most important. The writing needs work; there’s a lot of telling and not showing going on here and the dialogue, at times, feels forced. There is a warm story with an endearing message running through this novel, but it needs nurturing, attention to detail, and some love and care of its own. This is just one opinion. If you’ve read the book, why not leave your own rating below? Cant Let Go 4.5 Total Score Users Score - (0 votes) Leave your rating Pros *Warm message. Cons *Writing needs work.*Weak dialogue. Story Characters Writing Presentation Story 1 Characters 1 Writing 1 Presentation...